(This is from William Campbell Douglass, MD, a doctor I have respect for who treats his patient using only alternatives. He also wrote a book called Into the Light, where he recommends Photoluminescence Therapy.)
Sunlight has had a bad rap lately. I remember as a kid, one of three sons, being kicked outside early each day to play in the sun. These were the good old days when we didn’t know that everything in the world could kill us. My parents never put a sunscreen on any of us. It was considered healthy to play in the sun and get acquainted with new germs. Oh, how naïve we were.
Yes, we have to admit that overdosing in ultraviolet light is damaging to DNA, skin, eyes, mucus membranes and the immune system. Like everything, moderation is the key when it comes to sunlight. Just keep in mind that most of the studies showing the negative effects of sunlight have pretty shaky methodologies. Some of them being just pure trash financed by people who want you to buy UV resistant sunglasses and sunscreen.
Need an example? A study reported in the American Journal of Ophthalmology in March 1982 used monkeys that were tied down with their eyelids clamped wide open. Then their fully dilated pupils were exposed to beams from a 2,500-watt lamp for 16 minutes. Apparently, this caused retinal damage. This study reminds me of the monkeys that were forced to smoke marijuana for sixteen hours a day and showed signs of being very stoned. Duh!!
Here’s a bit of an article from the Institute of Complementary Medicine Journal: The impression given is that the sun is the overwhelming, directly causes cancer. But growing evidence tells a different story. Why, for example, is the incidence of melanoma on the Orkney and Shetland Isles, north of Scotland, 10 times that of Mediterranean islands (Science 1991;254:114-5)?
The increase of skin cancer incidence cannot be due simply to the sun and decreasing ozone layers. Contrary to general belief, there is no evidence that reduction in the ozone layer, observed at the poles, has caused any increase in melanomas (Br J Can 1992; 65: 916-21). Even a study of Punta Arenas, the largest South American city close to the Antarctic ozone hole, showed no increase in health problems related to depleted ozone. In fact, UV measures were too small to have any noticeable effect (Am J Pub Health 1995;85(4):546-50).
There are many other factors that have to be considered – and listening to sunscreen makers is like asking a surgeon if you need surgery. As Maslow put it, “When the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem begins to resemble a nail.”
Sunlight Used to be a Medical Therapy
It’s called Heliotherapy. One of Heliotherapy’s first uses was for tuberculosis. Prior to the use of drug therapy, patients with tuberculosis spent hours each day in the sun. It was thought that the sun acted as a bactericide, killing the Tubercular bacillus. Later it was theorized that the vitamin D created in the skin also attacked the TB bacillus. Whatever the answer, sun therapy helped heal tuberculosis; this is a fact.
Only three percent of the light reaching the earth’s atmosphere is ultraviolet. Most of that is shielded by the ozone layer (which seems to be thinning). UV light comes in two flavors: UVA and UVB. It is UVB that is essential to producing vitamin D in humans through a process you probably thought only occurred in plants: photosynthesis.
Why We Need UV Light:
UV light activates vitamin D synthesis.
UV light lowers blood pressure.
UV light increases heart “performance”.
UV light improves ECG and blood parameters in persons suffering from arteriosclerosis.
UV light lowers cholesterol counts.
UV light helps in weight loss.
UV light is effective against psoriasis.
UV light is effective with numerous other ailments (Krudsen in his book Light Therapy lists 165 diseases).
UV light promotes the production of sex hormones.
UV light activates an important skin hormone (Solitrole).
UV light is a nutrient just as vitamins and minerals.
“Heliotherapy” was very popular in Europe from 1900 to c. 1940. One Dr. Rollier, head of a sun therapy clinic, wrote a volume titled La Cure de Soleil [The Sun Cure].
The Importance of Vitamin D
Vitamin D could be labeled a hormone, according to Dr. Michael Holick. A hormone is a secretion of a gland that travels through the blood to a specific tissue for a specific purpose. Vitamin D, for example, is created in the epidermis. It travels through the blood, and aids in calcium metabolism allowing our bones to absorb calcium. You should also note that only one third, approximately, of the calcium you take in is absorbed by the bones. If you are vitamin D deficient, only 10 to 20% of your calcium will be absorbed.
Concerning cancer, a study published in Anticancer Research in 2006 confirmed that vitamin D produced by UV light reduces the risk of:
16 sites of cancer,
3 cancers of female organs,
6 cancers of gastrointestinal organs,
2 types of lymphomas,
3 types of urogenital cancers, and
2 upper digestive tract cancers.
The study went on to say, “The mechanisms whereby vitamin D reduces the risk of cancer are well known. Vitamin D, besides aiding the metabolism of calcium, also regulates cell growth. It is the first line of therapy for psoriasis, according to Dr Holick. In latitudes where inhabitants get less UV levels, cancer rates are higher.
Cancer is unregulated cell growth. Vitamin D therapy helps prevent a great number of diseases. This includes cancers such as prostate, breast, colon, and ovarian cancers, multiple sclerosis, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, psoriasis, seasonal affected disorder, diabetes (both type I and II), autoimmune thyroid disorders, lupus, and even tooth decay and schizophrenia.
In the UK, where the sun appears less, vitamin D deficiency is rampant. When we don’t get enough sunlight, the disorder you can get is called SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder. If you are depressed, ask your doctor to check your vitamin D levels. Dr Robert Jay Rowen, MD feels that 45-50 ng/ml is optimal. If you can’t get into the sun, get yourself some vitamin D3 (2000 to 2600 mg/day should be enough).
And yet, with all we know about the benefits of vitamin D, in America vitamin D deficiency is an epidemic.
In The Healing Power of Sunlight & Vitamin D, Mike Adams sums up the epidemic thusly:
32% of doctors and med school students are vitamin D deficient.
40% of the U.S. population is vitamin D deficient.
42% of African American women of childbearing age are deficient in vitamin D.
48% of young girls (9-11 years old) are vitamin D deficient.
Up to 60% of all hospital patients are vitamin D deficient.
76% of pregnant mothers are severely vitamin D deficient,
81% of the children born to these mothers were deficient.
Up to 80% of nursing home patients are vitamin D deficient.
African Americans are deficient in vitamin D simply because of their dark skin. The darker the skin, the longer they must be in sunlight to produce adequate amounts of vitamin D. African Americans in the northern latitudes get even less UV light to create vitamin D, and prostate cancer among northern latitude African Americans is epidemic. If you are dark pigmented, you could require up to 20 to 30 times the amount of sun exposure of your light skinned neighbors.
Ironically, our light skinned neighbors lather up in sun screens before going outside. Even a weak sunscreen will block up to 95% of vitamin D generation. The more you have on, the longer you have to be out to get your daily requirement of vitamin D. Put on too much, and you’ll have to spend all day in the sun, so, it is advised to sun smartly. Go into the sun for fifteen minutes, and then put your sunscreen on. The lighter the skin, the less sunlight you need. The higher the latitude the more sunlight you need.
Sadly, your diet will NOT get you enough vitamin D. We’re told to drink milk, but Mike Adams points out that it will take ten glasses to get our daily requirement of vitamin D. You can supplement with vitamin D3 caps. How much is required? 1,000 (IU) per day. Mike Adams points to a study in the UK where babies received 2000 IU of vitamin D and they had a remarkable 80% decreased risk of developing Type I diabetes.
You should also note that vitamin D, to be activated must pass thru the kidneys and liver. Kidney or liver disease greatly impairs the activation of vitamin D.
Another interesting point I got from interviewing an ophthalmologist is that the blind are consistently vitamin D deficient. If you wear glasses, spend time in the sun without your glasses.
If you are vitamin D deficient, it will take a few months of sunlight or supplementation to reverse. Don’t expect a quick fix. To find out if you have an extreme deficiency in vitamin D, Mike Adams tells us to put your hand over your sternum and push. If it’s very painful, then you are very deficient in vitamin D.
Vitamin D deficiency results in depression, rickets, osteoporosis, muscle weakness and aches and pains. It is often misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia. Prolonged vitamin D defiance can result in all those illnesses listed above that vitamin D therapy prevents.
And the best place to get it? Go outside. It’s free! But know this: brief exposure to a lot of skin is better than prolonged exposure to any amount of skin. Most vitamin D is synthesized in 20-30 minutes. Experts feel you should be active during this time, do not wear glasses, wear a hat, and enjoy yourself.